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The Mountain Bard

James Hogg
Edited by Suzanne Gilbert


Hogg grew up in rural Ettrick Forest in a notable family of tradition-bearers, and in his first major poetry collection The Mountain Bard of 1807 he claims his rightful position at the centre of that culture. Whereas Scott collected the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border Hogg was the sole author of The Mountain Bard. He learned to negotiate the erudite print culture of Edinburgh with the literary ballad, sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by his powerful friend, shifting the shape of his earlier manuscript and periodical poems accordingly. Then in 1821, when he was an established literary man, he published a revised edition in keeping with his new professional status as Author of The Queen's Wake. The present edition prints together, for the first time, the surviving pre-1807 versions of poems included in The Mountain Bard, the full 1807 collection, and the complete 1821 version. The Introduction (besides giving a full history of this complex, changing work) places it firmly within the eighteenth-century antiquarian projects of ballad-collecting and the intellectual currents of Romanticism, in particular the literary vogue for the ballad shown in works such as Lyrical Ballads (1798) by Wordsworth and Coleridge.

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About the Author

James Hogg was a Scottish poet, novelist and essayist who wrote in both Scots and English. He is best known for his novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

Suzanne Gilbert, senior lecturer in English at Stirling University, publishes on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scottish literature, ballads, and chapbooks. She and Ian Duncan are general editors of the Stirling/South Carolina Research Edition of The Collected Works of James Hogg (Edinburgh University Press), for which she co-edited Queen Hynde (1998) and edited The Mountain Bard (2007). Her edition of Hogg’s Scottish Pastorals for the series is forthcoming.


The modern edition of The Mountain Bard, first published in 1807, then revised for 1821, contains both of these editions: double helpings that reveal Hogg's gradual construction of himself as the true Borders Minstrel based on his first-hand knowledge of traditional ballads. Suzanne Gilbert ably describes the context surrounding the production of Hogg's 1807 volume and considers the influence of Walter Scott in securing its publication.

- Deirdre A. Shepherd, University of Edinburgh, BARS Bulletin and Review
The edition has elaborate annotations and a detailed introduction, which is especially interesting in relation to the oral tradition and the early editions of ballad texts.
- H.B. de Groot, Scottish Literary Review

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